911 -- Frequently Asked Questions

Answers to question frequently asked about 911.

Page updated on Feb 7, 2020 at 2:25 PM
  1. What is 911?
  2. When should I call 911?
  3. What happens after I make the call?
  4. What should I say to the operator?
  5. What if I call 911 by accident?
  6. Is there anything I should do now to prepare for emergencies later?


What is 911?
911 is the phone number you should call when you need help, or see someone who needs help.

When should I call 911?
You should only call when someone or something is hurt, or is in danger, and you need the assistance of a public safety or medical professional.

What happens after I make the call?
After you dial 911, the person who picks up on the other end will be someone whose job it is to help you.  They may ask you do to things, or ask you questions. It is important that you follow their directions as best as you can. They will send to wherever you are and will stay on the phone with you until everyone is safe.

What should I say to the operator?
When the Alexandria 911 operator  answers, be prepared to give the following information:

  1. The street address (where the problem is.)

  2. What the problem is

  3. The phone number you are calling from

  4. Your name.

Remain calm, speak clearly and stay on the line to answer all the operator's questions. When you call 911, you become the eyes and ears for the call taker. Help will get to you much faster when you stay calm, tell the call taker everything that is happening, and answer all the call taker's questions.

In situations where medical assistance is needed immediately--for example, if a woman is having a baby, when you call 911, emergency medical dispatch allows the caller to receive medical advice/instructions on how to assist a patient in distress.  CPR and emergency childbirth assistance will be provided by the call taker.  You will be asked a series of questions and then given instructions.

Remember to stay calm and the call taker will tell you what to do each step of the way.  You will be able to handle the situation.

What if I call 911 by accident?
Even if you called 911 by accident or you think the problem has gone away, it is important that you stay on the phone until the call taker tells you it is OK to hang up. It's the call taker's job to make sure you are all right and that help has gotten to whomever needs it. In situations where you aren't able to talk or have to leave, do not hang up the phone or disconnect the call, so that the 911 operator can hear what is going on in the room. Most times they will be able to use computers at the 911 center to find your address.

Is there anything I should do now to prepare for emergencies later?

  1. Before an emergency strikes, memorize important information about you and your family. Being able to tell the 911 operator important information -- like your address, your family members' names, and your phone number will get help to you faster.

  2. Always be aware of your surroundings, so that if an emergency strikes, you can tell the 911 operator the location of the incident, or provide information such as landmarks, cross streets and mileposts.

  3. Train your entire family to use 911. Even a very young child can learn to recognize an emergency and know how to dial three easy digits.